After success with The Revolution Will Be Televised on BBC Three, comedians Jolyon Rubinstein and Heydon Prowse have been given a promotion to BBC Two for their latest comedy vehicle: Revolting. It follows a similar basis to the former, as the two pranksters – with a variety of characters – take aim at the current political landscape, whether at a Labour rally, a hippy festival, or a high street in Essex.
The cliches of the characters are all fairly predictable, but still executed well enough to warrant a chuckle or two. Prowse playing a UKIP supporter, asking the public what the ‘I’ in their party name should stand for now that independence has been achieved, is an enjoyable skit, even if it does stray towards some rather worrying chat about hanging immigrants.
There are also Robin and Penny: two very different Labour supporters. Robin is a diehard socialist and Jeremy Corbyn fanboy; he’s happy that Labour has “lost that poisonous need to win elections” as he tells fellow supporters. Penny, at the other end of the spectrum, is a fully-fledged Blairite whose best line is a deadpan remark about the number of secretly talented ballet dancers in coalmining towns.
Although the Tory James Twottington-Burbage and Instagram ‘sensation’ Duckface are both irritating and irksome to the point that I wanted to not only turn off my laptop but also throw it in a fire, these characters are not even the biggest problem the show has. The biggest issue is what the programme actually is.
Revolting doesn’t seem to be able to decide if it wants to be a hidden camera prank show, a sketch comedy vehicle, or a programme of biting political satire. In the end, it all kind of muddles together, creating a rather diluted version of all three.
The target of their humour can also feel rather old. A joke about the VW emissions scandal comes over a year too late for anyone to really feel that it was warranted. The same issue comes up in some of the sketches relating to the overworking of NHS. It is not bad per se, but it is about as fresh as that milk you left in the fridge before you went away for Christmas.
At the end of the day, it feels like a bit of a throwback. But not the fun sort of “oooh, remember that time you got so drunk that you thought you were Jason Bourne and tried to steal a car” throwback, but the sort of “remember that time you punched my mum” throwback.
For a show that talks so much about the ideas of revolution, it’s a real shame that the creators weren’t able to have any of their own.
Image: Gary Knight @Twitter